Are Guitar Pedals Necessary Or Worth The Money?

Guitar pedals have become an integral part of many guitarists’ setups but are they a necessity or simply a luxury?

These are questions that many guitarists have asked themselves before, especially in recent times when effects technology has evolved.

From giving your sound a more professional edge to taking your playing to the next level, guitar pedals can be a game-changer, but there are some things to think about, and this article will discuss some things you should consider before making a purchase.

Are Guitar Pedals Essential?

Guitar pedals are not necessary for every single guitarist; they’re a very individualistic type of accessory.

Pedals might be crucial to one guitarist’s setup, but another guitarist might use little to no pedals in theirs.

A lot of overdrive, distortion, and other onboard effects built into amplifiers can get the job done just fine, and people are happy with them and don’t need pedals taking up space. Many people see a lot of satisfaction in having all of their effects in just one unit, such as a multi-effects pedalboard too.

Nowadays, even professionals use a lot of software that can achieve these effects. Everything, including amps, can be done digitally through computers or multi-effects processors or the Axe-Fx or Kemper Profiler.

Through computers, effects can also be automated during live performances, which eliminates the need to use your foot and time it properly.

The real question should be – are guitar effects necessary?

Most people argue yes, but at the same time, a ton of people still don’t use any effects and prefer a very minimalistic sound. So, once again, even effects aren’t essential for everyone.

Even amongst those who favor effects, not everyone will use the same effects, including ones that people deem essential. So, for example, you typically won’t see jazz guitarists using distortion and wah, but you could find them using reverb, delay, and chorus.

At the end of the day, like most pieces of equipment, it’s all a matter of personal preference.

You don’t have to use pedals if you have the effects you need elsewhere, like on your amp. However, if you don’t, pedals are one of the easiest ways to add to your sound and help you achieve the tone you want.

If you think pedals might be the right choice for you, the following sections will discuss some of the benefits of guitar pedals, tips on finding the right ones, and how you can get the most out of your pedals.

Boss DD-8 Digital Delay Pedal
  • Delay Guitar Effect Pedal with 10 Seconds of Delay
  • True Stereo I/O with 3 Output Modes
  • 40-second Looper with Overdub
  • 2 Footswitch Inputs
  • Carryover Switch

The Benefits Of Using Guitar Pedals

Effects can provide various benefits to your sound and your playing. So whether you’re using them to boost your sound, create new textures, or even perform some cool effects, guitar pedals can be a powerful tool in your setup and a simple one at that.

Pedals can enhance your sound in several ways that you might not be able to achieve otherwise. They can also help you to sound more professional, regardless of the type of music you play.

Depending on the type of pedal you use, you can add anything from distortion, echo, reverb, or a wah, to name a few examples. You can even use certain pedals to change the pitch of your guitar!

Since everything can be activated simply by using your foot, pedals can be especially useful for lead guitarists looking for more control over their effects during a performance. For instance, overdrive pedals can provide a significant boost and add some extra grit that their amp doesn’t natively have.

This means that arguably the best feature of guitar pedals is that you can create completely unique sounds, especially when used in conjunction with one another, and control them at will while you’re playing.

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer – Classic
  • Disttion/Overdrive Guitar Stompbox Effect

How To Choose The Right Guitar Pedal

Choosing the right pedal for you and your playing style is the most critical part of purchasing a guitar pedal.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can buy the wrong pedal for your needs, which will either sit there uselessly or cost you more money and time to replace it with a better pedal.

Here are a few things you should remember when choosing a pedal:

Type of Pedal 

The first decision you need is what type of pedal you need. There are a wide variety of different pedals available, and each will produce a different effect on your sound. Ideally, you’ll want a pedal that sounds better than what’s on your amp, like distortion or reverb, or you’ll want one that produces an effect that you don’t have at all.


The next thing to keep in mind when buying a pedal is learning what kind of controls it has. Some pedals have few controls and do just one thing very well, while others have a lot of knobs to help you shape your sound. Therefore, it’s important to consider what controls you need. Some people will look for more simplified pedals, whereas others want something more complex with in-depth controls. That’s up to you.


The type of connections your guitar pedal has can also affect your decision. Some pedals are more versatile and work fine with both guitar and bass, but other pedals are designed for just one instrument. For example, many guitar pedals don’t sound suitable for bass, but some do.


You also want to ensure that the pedal you choose is a well-made piece of equipment. This doesn’t mean you should break the bank, but you certainly don’t want a flimsy pedal that will break after a few uses.

JIM DUNLOP Cry Baby Standard Wah GCB95 Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Heavy Die Cast Construction
  • Powered by the Dunlop ECB-03 AC Adapter (not included) and/or 9 volt battery
  • Dimensions: 10″ x 4″ x 2-1/2″

The Benefits Of Investing In Quality Guitar Pedals

Although cheap guitar pedals can get the job done, the most obvious benefit of getting a good-quality pedal is the fact that you will get a superior sound and performance out of these pedals.

Lower-quality pedals can sometimes produce an inferior sound, which affects your playing.

Additionally, they may not be as durable and can break down more quickly. You may also be limited in the sounds you can create with a lower-quality pedal.

It’s also worth noting that some lower-quality pedals have a shorter lifespan. You might be able to get decent mileage out of them, but they will probably need to be replaced at some point.

A more expensive pedal may last for years, though, and pay for itself in the long run. 

Finally, quality pedals often have more controls, meaning you can customize your sound better and get the sound you want more quickly.

While an affordable and more straightforward pedal might be more appealing right now, there are times when you should get the higher-quality one with more features. Buy nice, or buy twice, as they say.

Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal
  • Noise Suppress/Noise Gate Guitar Pedal
  • Compact noise suppression pedal for eliminating noise and hum in guitar and bass effects and amplifier setups
  • Unique noise detection circuit preserves the natural attack and envelope of an instrument’s sound
  • Threshold and Decay knobs allow for shaping the elimination/suppression as desired


Ultimately, deciding if guitar pedals are necessary or worth it all comes to the individual and their needs.

They might be worthwhile to you, and they can be a crucial way of getting the sound you want. However, on the other hand, they could also be a waste of money because you need help finding good use for them.

You might even prefer to get your effects through other means as well. As mentioned before, people can automate the effects they want at a specific time, which is why many bands will perform live with a laptop these days. The entire show, even the lights, can be programmed onto it. It’s amazing!

Still, people love guitar pedals, and guitarists will never stop using them entirely, and if you’re interested in using them, go for it, but do your research first. As long as you enjoy them and find them useful, they are worth it.

Speaking of useful, be sure to check out my guide to the best guitar accessories for beginners. Here, you’ll find information on some of the tools you’ll be able to use throughout your guitar-playing career, as well as some recommendations for good stuff you should look into.